Elite-level Counter-Strike is returning with a bang, as one of the biggest events of the year kicks off on February 15. IEM Katowice is set to bring us two weeks of exciting CS:GO action, bringing together all of the best teams in the world for the first time in 2022.
For those unfamiliar with the event, it’s essentially an unofficial world championship-level event comprised of all of the best teams of 2021. Every team at the event earned their spot based on their performance at ESL events last year, with the best 24 teams battling it out.
Whether you’re a dedicated fan, an esports bettor or you’re just looking for a good place to throw out a punt or two, IEM Katowice is not an event you want to miss.
Before we dive into the juicy details of the event, make sure to brush up on your CS with our Counter-Strike betting guide – and let’s dive right in.
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Who’s Playing At IEM Katowice?
As mentioned, we’ll see 24 of the best teams in the world at IEM Katowice. This means that if you’re a Counter-Strike fan, you’re very likely to see your favorite team playing in Poland.
Bookmaker favorite Natus Vincere headlines the event, coming in as undoubtedly the best team in the world and topping the HLTV world ranking. Of course, the competition will be stiff with Gambit, Vitality, G2, Heroic and many more of the world’s best also attending.
One thing that makes the event special is the truly international nature of it. Most CS:GO events are regional, but IEM Katowice is one of few that bring together every region. While Europe and North America dominate the attendance list, we also see representatives from South America, Asia and Oceania. Teams from these regions rarely make it to international events but are always amazing underdogs to watch when there’s an event like this one, so make sure to keep your eyes on them.
Meanwhile, when it comes to the event itself, it features a bit of a different format than the usual Counter-Strike tournament. With 24 teams, IEM Katowice is one of the biggest events of the year and it has been split into two key stages to manage it: the play-in and the main event.
The eight best teams of 2021, based on points earned from placements at ESL events, are seeded directly into the main event. The remaining 16 teams are thrown into the play-in, essentially a mini-tournament to decide which teams advance to the main event.
The play-in is played in a double-elimination format playoff bracket, with teams seeded based on their ranking. This means that once teams lose two matches, they are out, and the top eight teams advance to the main event.
IEM Katowice’s main event is split into two stages – a group stage and single-elimination playoffs. The 16 remaining teams are first split into two groups of eight, with three teams from each advancing to the playoffs. Group winners are seeded directly into the semifinals, while second and third place head to the quarterfinals. Then, teams battle a match at a time in a simple playoff bracket, with the last team standing taking home the trophy.
CS:GO IEM Katowice Betting Odds
|Ninjas in Pyjamas||+2500|
Odds as of January 27 at [operator-link-esports:189171:Betway
Multiple New Rosters Aim For Strong Start
One key thing to note about IEM Katowice is that it follows Counter-Strike’s winter break, meaning we see a few new rosters. Vitality, G2 and Liquid are the three main teams to watch in that regard, all having made some huge moves over the new year.
Vitality reshuffled the roster with the addition of Dupreeh and Magisk, bringing much-needed firepower to a team that was just one step away from winning multiple events in 2021. Meanwhile, G2 saw a big change in the tactical aspect of their game, bringing in one of the world’s best in-game leaders, Alexib, to organize a lineup full of firepower. Last but not least, Liquid saw three changes, signing two experienced stars in Shox and Nitro, as well as an impressive young gun, Osee.
Roster moves like these are always a double-edged sword. Freshening up a team that clearly isn’t working out is always a good move, but it does take time for a squad to jell. With this being the first tournament for these squads, it may be too soon for the lineups to reach their full potential. However, sometimes everything does just fall into place, so we’ll just have to wait and see how the first few matches go.
Favored Na’Vi Looks to Continue CS:GO Dominance
Natus Vincere enters IEM Katowice as the heavy favorite, seeing odds of -152 on Betway, which correlates to odds of 60.24 percent on Odds Shark’s Super Calculator – that’s a pretty high chance to win!
It’s not too surprising seeing such overwhelming odds for Na’Vi, considering they ended 2021 with three very dominant tournament wins, as well as winning seven of their last events. The team really came together in the second half of last year and there’s not really any reason why they’d slow down now.
In fact, things are looking better than before for the favorites, since most of their main competition has seen roster changes. Of their biggest rivals, only Gambit won’t be adjusting to a new squad at IEM Katowice, putting Na’Vi firmly in the driver’s seat.
With the current best player in the world, Simple, at the helm and an overall cohesive squad that’s firing on all cylinders, it’s tough to imagine Natus Vincere not taking home another trophy.
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Gambit Enters IEM Katowice As Main Challenger
Gambit looks to be Na’Vi’s main challenger at IEM Katowice, seeing by far the closest odds and being one of the only top teams to not have made sweeping changes over the winter break.
The young roster is looking as good as ever, having had a deserved winter break after their breakout year. They come into the event as one of the only teams with a proper warmup, having played at the Funspark ULTI finals, where they secured convincing wins against Complexity, Entripiq and Big on their way to the trophy.
So far, Gambit’s form looks to be as good as ever, with the team working well together and individual players performing as well as expected. With a warm-up event under their belts and a squad of hungry young stars, Gambit may be the only team capable of stopping Na’Vi.
What Can We Expect From The Underdogs?
With such a big event, there are a lot of underdogs, ranging from top teams with a decent chance for an upset all the way to extreme long shots. Of course, the favorites are favorites for a reason, but there’s a real shot for the underdogs to do some damage.
IEM Katowice is always full of drama, so seeing some upsets isn’t too unlikely. We’ll still probably see one of the favorites win, but it may be a bumpy journey. Backing the underdogs in some individual games is the best option, with Tyloo and Renegades being two key picks to steal away a map or two.
The two teams come in as the biggest underdogs, representing two historically weak regions, Asia and Oceania. While on an individual basis the players are a bit below the average level at the event, they more than make up for it with unique strategies. Both regions also fly under the radar, making it hard for teams to find concrete replays to prepare for their tactics.
Other than those two, we also have Copenhagen Flames, who tore it up at the major but have slumped since. They’re a bit of a mixed bag, but could bounce back again when it matters most. Then there’s FaZe Clan, a team brimming with talent that just completed their ultimate roster with the signing of Ropz. On paper, they’re one of the best teams at the event, making them a great dark horse if everything falls into place.
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